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Posted on 24 February 2008  - 12:00

Jonathan Woodgate's header in extra time deservedly clinched the Carling Cup at Wembley and secured a place in Europe for next season.

Jonathan Woodgate's header in extra time deservedly clinched the Carling Cup at Wembley and secured a place in Europe for next season.

'Woody' threw himself at Jermaine Jenas' free-kick with 93 minutes and 25 seconds on the clock, got his head in front of Petr Cech and gleefully ran off in celebration as it nestled into the corner.

It was no less than we deserved after dominating chances created at Wembley. Quite how Chelsea went in 1-0 up at half-time was mystery with a chance count of eight-two in our favour but once Dimitar Berbatov levelled from the penalty spot in the 69th minute, the tide turned in our favour.

More chances came and went - Cech saved brilliantly again - but once Woodgate's header landed it was a case of seeing the game out and we did it in superb style, Ledley King and man of the match Woodgate absolutely magnifent.

Robbie Keane set about making his mark on the final in the first minute when a Juliano Belletti pass went astray and the striker fizzed in a shot that only diverted wide via the inside of John Terry's leg. Ledley King, in the side to the biggest cheer of the pre-match build-up, then nearly latched onto a Dimitar Berbatov header from the resulting corner.

The atmosphere from the Spurs end of this gigantic arena was spine-tingling and the boys looked intent on feeding off the support with a purposeful beginning that plonked Chelsea right on the back foot.

The flags placed on every seat on Saturday provided a scenic and colourful backdrop to the occasion. There would have been an explosion of colour at our end had a Pascal Chimbonda header bounced under rather than on top of the bar from a deep Steed Malbranque corner then seconds later Berbatov's heading direction was lacking a little when he nodded wide with a free header from a Keane cross.

Chelsea edged into the contest and Jonathan Woodgate had to be sharp in front of goal to block a Shaun Wright-Phillips cross being met by a boot wrapped around a blue sock. A flying header from Woodgate at the other end was too far off making capital from an expertly flighted free-kick from Jermaine Jenas.

Petr Cech later showed sharp reactions down to his right to foil a Malbranque shy on goal which was swiftly followed by Frank Lampard trying his luck at the other end - Chelsea's first shot just before the half hour mark. Quite a telling stat that went a long way towards explaining the story of the first third.

Two free-kicks in quick succession from 20-odd yards out taken by Lampard and Didier Drogba - neither troubling Paul Robinson - topped up Chelsea's shot count.

Another free-kick - given for a Didier Zokora chop on Drogba with 38 minutes in the clock - did come at a cost. The burly striker from the Ivory Coast recovered to take it himself and, with Chelsea players in our wall, arrowed the ball through the protective layer and into the net.

Berbatov had the chance to level just before the break when Keane slotted him through on goal, but the Bulgarian tangled with Ricardo Calvalho and slipped in the area rather than quickly getting his shot away.

The second half did not get off to an explosive start as Chelsea sought to slow the game down and dull the tempo.

Juande Ramos made his first change just after the hour, introducing Tom Huddlestone for a disconsolate Chimbonda. Malbranque appeared to make the switch to left-back, but it was on the other side that King was at his masterful best in denying Nicolas Anelka a shooting chance.

The twist in the tale came on 68 minutes when Huddlestone attempted to work himself a spot of shooting space and the ball struck the hand of Wayne Bridge. The assistant spotted the offence and referee Mr Halsey eventually gave the penalty.

Berbatov was ridiculously cool in applying his finish from 12 yards.

A chance to double advantage came ten minutes from time when Zokora was sent clean through, his first effort being saved by Cech and his rebound chance flying over the bar.

Extra time seemed almost inevitable after this point and the additional period was duly ushered in without too much further incident.

Less than four minutes in a Jenas free-kick was latched onto by the head of Woodgate, who had made a clever marker-evading dash round the back, and his flick into Cech came back onto him before rolling into the empty net. Woodgate set off on a charge and half of Wembley went very quiet.

Another change was made a few minutes before the end of the first 15 minutes, with Keane making way for Younes Kaboul. With Chelsea likely to go long and fire balls into Drogba and Anelka, a central defensive three was deemed the way to repel the threat.

It worked a treat - although Robinson was forced into key late action to deny Cole from 12 yards and there were the usual scares to overcome.

Ultimately, the right team won on the day - and how great it felt to watch Ledley lift the trophy.

Click here to view images from the Carling Cup Final.